By Kristin Hoerth
I love to see where people work. Whether it’s friends, family, or co-workers in faraway states, seeing someone’s work environment gives me a more complete picture of both the person and the work they do. That’s especially true when it comes to artists.
So I was happy to tour three artists’ studios this past weekend during a trip to the annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale in Cody, WY. My colleagues and I paid a visit first to sculptor Vic Payne, whose studio sits just outside of town in a big metal building reminiscent of a warehouse. The entrance leads to a small, elegant gallery. Behind the gallery space, though, is where the surprise sets in: A cavernous open space has been completely, exquisitely redone to house sculpting areas for Vic and his son, Dustin, as well as a full foundry. The concrete floors are stained a warm earth tone; the high ceiling is painted a deep green. Seeing this space, I gained a renewed appreciation for just how much work goes into bronze sculpture.
Next we stopped at the home and studio of painter M.C. (Mike) Poulsen. On a leafy residential street, it was filled with both finished pieces and works in progress. One of the highlights of our visit was a look at a limited-edition book Mike published years ago called Along the Border Trail, a reproduction of illustrated journals his father kept to record his life on the trail and in hunting camps. I gained a clearer sense of the authentic western lifestyle that Mike incorporates into his works.
Finally, on the way back to the airport in Billings, MT, we were treated to a tour of the rural studio of cowboy painter Chris Owen. Located perhaps 15 miles outside the town of Laurel, it’s a two-story log home that Chris designed and helped build, a true labor of love. It’s surrounded by corrals for Chris’ three horses, pine trees that dot the gently rolling hills, and solitude that stretches for miles. As we watched the setting sun turn the clouds pink and orange, I gained a feel for the real West.
I’m lucky to have the chance to visit studios like these in my travels, and I encourage you, if you have the same opportunities, to take full advantage. Meanwhile, we at Southwest Art will continue to give you behind-the-scenes tours of artists’ studios each month in our “My World” feature. In this issue, we visit potter Kathleen Wall . We hope you enjoy the view. -November 2008